Yale Clarifies That 'Nonconsensual Sex' Does Mean Sexual Assault

Illustration for article titled Yale Clarifies That Nonconsensual Sex Does Mean Sexual Assault

A full two years after a sexual assault complaint sparked a federal investigation, and the Ivy League University still can't speak about sexual assault like grown-ups.

After the July 31 semi-annual report that used a benign, confusing, wishy-washy, untruthful term ("nonconsensual sex") instead of the correct term ("rape"), and said that in some cases it was only punished with a written reprimand, some Yale students and alumni got mad and wrote petitions and letters of their own.

Advertisement

A group of 229 Yale alumni published an open letter last week demanding their alma mater make reforms to its policies on sexual assault on campus, raising concerns similar to those addressed earlier in August by "Students Against Sexual Assault at Yale," a group of current students.

Advertisement

In response, Yale's Title IX Coordinator Stephanie Spangler said that "nonconsensual sex" refers to "one of the behaviors that we consider sexual assault," and that the school issues "as harsh a punishment as is warranted." So...uh, sometimes that's a written reprimand? Well, it looks like we're about to find out:

In the coming weeks, the university plans to release a series of hypothetical situations to explain how it categorizes types of sexual violence and the corresponding punishments. Spangler said this is an attempt to resolve concerns that the university does not remove assailants from campus.

Advertisement

Soon we'll know if these "scenarios" are more helpful than a blanket "DON'T RAPE", and if they also speak to why students who were found guilty of "nonconsensual sex" weren't dealt with more harshly than with a written reprimand.

[Huffington Post]

Image via Wikimedia.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter

DISCUSSION

seize
Seize: it's about ethics in gossip journalism

These discussions of rape in college always prompt me back to the same blog post on research into Predator Theory on Feministe.

Predator Theory is the term given to a set of hypotheses which purport to explain some spectacular numbers. The numbers: less than 9% of men commit upwards of 90% of completed and attempted rapes by self-reported, undetected rapists.

If we're using the accepted paradigm of rape where the "worst" rape is a scary ethnic minority jumping a jogger and other forms of rape are committed by a gradation of more redeemable people, rules like Yale's rules make sense. If we use the concept of Predator Theory, we realize that Yale's theory is unjustly casting all men as potential rapists, and giving dangerous repeat offenders a pass when they manage to smear or confuse a victim badly enough to make them feel accountable for their assault.

Another interesting finding from the studies that led to the formulation of Predator Theory: undetected rapists employ a regular modus operandi. The self-reported rapists interviewed showed a strong preference for either intoxication rape or coercive or violent rape, though the strongest dichotomy wasn't by rape strategy - it was by victim choice. In strong contrast to culturally accepted narratives, the "worst" rapes - the self-reported violent or coercive rapes - were committed exclusively by acquaintances or friends of the victims. Rapists who targeted strangers were far more likely to use intoxication strategies.

If we consider this body of research, we see that approaches by educational institutions which fail to identify and record patterns of accusations or behavior miss the entire point. Rape isn't a misunderstanding: it is a pattern of behavior engaged in by habitual rapists. Spot the pattern, spot the rapist.